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Red Raiders look to get series win against Kentucky

Starting off strong will be a focal point for the Red Raiders.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida vs Texas Tech Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders will look to continue their winning ways this weekend against the Kentucky Wildcats in Lubbock. This will be a three game series with the first game starting at 2:00 today. This series will be a real test for the Red Raiders as the Wildcats will be a contender for a NCAA Tournament spot later in the season. Now with that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the Wildcats.

These Wildcats are talented, as they blew past Austin Peay and won all three of their games last weekend by a combined 21 runs. This team can hit the ball, and they have great hitters up and down the lineup. Their best statistical hitter this season so far has been Right Fielder Jaren Shelby. Shelby is hitting .500 with 1 home run and 5 RBI. He had at least 1 RBI in every game so far this season. He bats third in their lineup and is a great hitter for them.

Shelby wouldn’t have so many RBI without lead-off man Breydon Daniel. Daniel plays third base and has been great at getting on base. He has a batting average of .300 but has an on base percentage of .533, meaning he’s really good at drawing walks. He scored 5 runs in the series against Austin Peay and drove in 3 more. The team’s designated hitter, T.J. Collett, has been a force for the Wildcats so far this season. He leads the team with 7 RBI and also blasted 2 home runs this past weekend. He bats cleanup and hits behind Shelby. Collett will be a big part of their offense and is also someone to watch closely.

Those three are their best hitters, but there are so many dynamic players on this team. Shortstop Alex Rodriguez (no not that one) has drawn 7 walks this season and is excellent at getting on base as his on base percentage leads the team at .643. First baseman Dalton Reed hit 2 home runs last weekend and is a power bat in the middle of that lineup. Here’s what I expect the Wildcat lineup to look like this weekend:

  1. 3B Breydon Daniel
  2. CF Cam Hill
  3. RF Jaren Shelby
  4. DH T.J. Collett
  5. 1B Dalton Reed
  6. RF Ryan Shinn
  7. C Colton Kessler
  8. SS Alex Rodriguez
  9. 2B Zeke Lewis

The Wildcats have only announced their starter for today’s game but I can predict who they will send to the bump for the other two games this weekend. Coach Tadlock announced a change to the rotation for the Red Raiders this weekend as last weekend’s starters did not perform as expected. Here are the starters for this weekend’s games:

Game 1: February 21st, 2:00 P.M.

Kentucky Starter: Zack Thompson

Season Stats:

0-0 0.00 ERA 4.0IP

9 Strikeouts 3 Walks

Texas Tech Starter: Erikson Lanning

0-0 10.80 ERA 1.2IP

2 Strikeouts 0 Walks

Game 2: February 22nd, 2 P.M.

Kentucky Projected Starter: Jimmy Ramsey

1-0 3.60 ERA 5.0IP

8 Strikeouts 2 Walks

Texas Tech Starter: Caleb Kilian

0-1 16.20 ERA 3.1IP

0 Strikeouts 2 Walks

Game 3: February 23rd, 1 P.M.

Kentucky Projected Starter: Dillon Marsh

0-0 2.25 ERA 4.0IP

4 Strikeouts 0 Walks

Texas Tech Starter: Mason Montgomery

0-0 6.75 ERA 4.0IP

1 Strikeout 1 Walk

Just looking at the stats, the Wildcats have an advantage in the starting pitching department. All of their starters had great outings last week and will look to repeat that success. The things for us Red Raider fans to keep in mind was that last week was just the beginning of the season, a time where tons of players knock off some rust and look shaky to start the season. Caleb Kilian looked great through a couple of innings before things fell apart. Mason Montgomery looked great as a lefty starter for a couple of innings.

The bullpen for the Red Raiders played very well last weekend. They saved the two weekend games that got off to shaky starts. John McMillon and Taylor Floyd will look to lead the group again this weekend. Look for Coach Tadlock to use a good amount of bullpen help this weekend again if the starters can’t advance past the third of fourth innings.

The bats of the Red Raiders will have to come alive again if they are to win this series. Gabe Holt will lead the way for the Red Raiders again this weekend and Josh Jung will have to keep the lineup locked down from the number three spot in the lineup. Braxton Fulford will also be someone to look forward to as he blasted two home runs last weekend and will look to continue his hot start from the plate. Here is the projected starting lineup for the Red Raiders:

  1. RF Gabe Holt
  2. SS Dru Baker
  3. 3B Josh Jung
  4. 2B Brian Klein
  5. DH Tanner O’Tremba/ Doug Facendo
  6. 1B Cam Warren
  7. LF Dylan Neuse
  8. CF Max Marusak
  9. C Braxton Fulford

This series will come down to pitching. These lineups are pretty evenly matched as both teams have a good number of players that can hit and score runs. If the Red Raiders can get anything out of their starting pitching, I think they can get at least two wins on the weekend.